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Some former associates of late presidential aspirant and former governor of old Kano State, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, have lamented that the vacuum left behind by his death on Sunday would be difficult to fill.

Also speaking in the same vein were the governor of Kwara and Oyo states, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Adebayo Alao-Akala, respectively.

Speaking in a telephone interview, the National Vice-Chairman (North-West) of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Danladi Sankara, said the demise of his former associate had left a huge vacuum that would be difficult to fill. Sankara said Rimi's demise was not only a loss to the PDP in Kano but would also affect the Nigerian political class and the masses.

He said the late politician lived a life worthy of emulation just as he was a rallying point for progressives, especially in northern Nigeria. According to him, 'The people of old Kano State which comprised Kano and present-day Jigawa State cannot forget him in a hurry. Much of the infrastructural development you see around Kano today is the handiwork of this great Nigerian.'

He observed that the late politician was an amiable person who would be missed by all, adding, 'You cannot speak of the person and character of a political colossus like Dr. Abubakar Rimi within one hour. Love him or hate him, Rimi was an amiable person who will be missed by all. All we can do is to pray that God grants him eternal rest and forgives him all his sins.'

Another former associate, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, told our correspondent that 'Rimi was a colourful politician, broadly speaking. He was a person that liked to identify with the radical traditions of politics of northern Nigeria. He was touted as a possible successor to the late Mallam Aminu Kano before they fell apart.'

Mohammed, who was a joint House Leader of the defunct Peoples Redemption Party, said, 'His inability to differentiate between power and political principle was largely responsible for his political undoing. Part of the reasons why he couldn't lead, even though he was seen as the heir-apparent, was the internal crisis which eventually split the party to the extent that he lost out to the extent of the potential he had as a leader of the movement after Aminu Kano he must be deemed the biggest loser.

'Because Aminu Kano was no more and he was in his political prime unable to take off and move on from where Aminu Kano left that was quite unfortunate. But as a governor, he must be judged a complete success as a governor of Kano State the only problem in his tenure as governor had to do with the security situation.

'There was the issue of the Maitasine riots which spread to many states in the far North. And then there was the issue of the rampage in Kano, which was also a major incident. The responsibility of government, apart from development, is the maintenance of law and order. The July rampage and the Maitasine riots which happened under his watch must have removed the gloat of what must have been a very remarkable and successful tenure as governor.

'He was to me a very enigmatic character; we had a lot of things in common. We shared some vices and we got on very well at a personal level. But politically, Rimi like most of the Nigerian elite always preferred to shy away from ideological engagement. In politics, in a very unequal society, a very unjust feudal society would be absolutely meaningless without the invocation of ideology.

'Apart from a few slogans of being progressive and so on, he lacked the rigorous ideological commitment which makes for long lasting impact in politics. The history of Nigeria from 1960 to date and even also from 1989 to date shows clearly that you cannot play politics without identifying with your social base; That was a problem not only with Rimi but most of the Nigerian elite. Somehow, they believe that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is no place for ideology, but recent developments are proving them massively, wrong and misguided.'

In a condolence message to the family of the deceased as well as the government and people of Kano State, Saraki said Rimi's death was a rude shock and monumental loss to the entire country.

Saraki said the death of the politician came at a time the country needed his wealth of experience to help strengthen the nation's democracy. He said the former governor served his fatherland diligently and contributed immensely to the socio-political development of Nigeria.

He also prayed God to grant the entire family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

The deceased was elected governor of Kano State between 1979 and 1983 on the platform of the defunct PRP.

He was also a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party

Meanwhile, Alao-Akala has commiserated with the family of the late Rimi over his sudden death.

The governor said, 'His exit has dealt a fatal blow to the rank of progressives in Nigeria. A blunt, radical and maverick political leader, Rimi came to national prominence at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs.

'He quickly broke into the political firmament as the governor of old Kano State at the age of 39. Urbane and debonair, he was sometimes controversial as a result of his strong positions on vexed national issues.

'Nonetheless, his love and desire for a united, strong and indivisible Nigeria was never called to question.'